Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back To Work

I was dragging a little today, trying to get back into the swing of things after two sick days and two regular days off. I think it would have been easier if we were really busy, but it was a relatively quiet Saturday. There were a few fishermen and a large group having a church picnic, and very few other visitors.
Once I opened the gate and put up the flags, I started the day by blowing off the walkway to the spring. A full inch of rain yesterday brought a lot of leaves down on the walkway. I also noticed that the vines on the sides of the walkway were getting out of hand again. While I was leaf blowing, I came across quite a few frogs. I was able to avoid making them fly, but I noticed one little fella was missing one of his hind legs! I would have taken a picture if I had known that missing limbs would be a theme for the day. I can assure you though, that the frog was missing that leg before the leaf blower and I arrived today.
After clearing the walkway, I drove out to the honor box to add more envelopes and to check to make sure that the visitors already in the park had paid. On the drive out there, I spotted a very large mushroom! When I got back to the parking lot, I saw that I had several more vehicles than I had payment envelopes for. I tracked everyone down and was able to collect their park fees without any hassle. From time to time, people try to get away with not paying when they come to the park. Some people who are new to the park honestly miss the honor fee station, which was the case today. Its something that really baffles me though and I have a hard time knowing whether to be friendly or friendly but stern when people don't pay. I think that the honor station is fairly visible. There is a standard, red stop sign, a giant park sign with the fees listed, a box with blue payment envelopes (with honor payment directions printed on them), an iron ranger to drop the envelopes into, and a brochure box. Most people who come to find me to pay the fee or who I have to find to pay the fee say "but there wasn't anyone there." Most people are looking for a person to pay. I often wonder if there is something that I can do to make the honor station more user-friendly for people who are new to this system. We have made minor adjustments through the years, but it seems that if a visitor is looking for a person, they won't see anything that isn't a person. Maybe I should have a cardboard cut-out of myself flagging people over to the honor box. It could even have a voice recording, "please pay here." I would hate to see what people would do to a life-sized cardboard ranger.
The majority of the rest of my day was spent answering questions and asking the same fishermen over and over to not fish in the swim area. They think that they are waiting until I am not looking, but I let them know that I can see their orange bobbers from everywhere around the spring. Maybe they will try brown bobbers next week.
I spent some time trimming back the hang-over vines on the walkway. I found a little Skink that was missing its tail, but it moved along before I got a photo. I found a very large millipede walking along the wall. The plants above the walkway were covered in butterflies today. It was really fun to see and I know that many of the visitors enjoyed the show. I was not the only one snapping photos either. I took lots of photos today, but here are the best. I like the one of the very large butterfly, even though the butterfly is very tattered. I think it is a Spicebush Swallowtail, although the colors seem a little off to me and its missing its tails (another missing body part). I got more than I bargained for in the next photo, 3 for the price of 1! There is a wasp on the left, a Long-tailed Skipper on the right, and a little blurry in the back, you can see the underside of the Swallowtail. All of the wildflowers along the walkway were busy with bugs like that all day!
Just before I left the park for the day, I spotted this little Mantis on my truck. I carefully moved it to a nearby tree before I drove away. I noticed that it was missing one of its "hands." Its rough out there, I guess.

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